Lack of EU framework holding back cloud

June 15, 2012

As most European data protection laws are still struggling to find regulatory framework to use as a jumping-off point, one of the world's foremost laboratories is forced to hold off on a move to the cloud, according to TechWorld. The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) - located in Geneva, Switzerland - is looking to embrace the burgeoning technology, but is held back by the stagnant development of regulations.

Keeping up
While worries about how to secure cloud computing slow the adoption process for many major companies, CERN is more concerned with how it can keep up with the amount of data it produces, thanks to the work of its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) accelerator - the largest particle accelerator in the world.

"CERN's computing capacity needs to keep up with the data coming from the Large Hadron Collider and we see Helix Nebula - the science cloud - as a great way of working with industry to meet this challenge," the head of CERN's IT department, Frederic Hemmer, told TechWorld in March.

Bigger data
The regulatory barriers preventing CERNs adoption of the cloud are also preventing the laboratory from getting the most out of its impressive piece of equipment. According to TechWorld, CERN's existing European data centers have 100,000 CPUs managing 15 petabytes a year.

While that is an imposing amount of data for many organizations, it represents just 20 percent of the data generated by the LHC. In fact, Bob Jones, head of the CERN openlab, told TechWorld while speaking in London that between the four major experiments operating in the LHC, just one percent of the data - being created at a petabyte of raw data per second - is stored.

CERN would like to experiment with how the cloud can help manage such massive amounts of data. The goal is to eventually create a hybrid system between a commercial cloud and the data centers that the laboratory owns, once the regulatory environment allows for more significant cloud use.

Regulatory hurdle
One of the major issues that providers have with the data protection laws is not data security in the cloud, but the actual location of that data. The European laws currently going through parliament prevent the movement of data outside of the European Union. Acting deputy director at the European Commission, Megan Richards, doesn't think it particularly matters if the data were to be stored in the United States, where many cloud providers are located.

"Theoretically, it shouldn't matter where data is held as long as our rules apply," Richards told the Register. "The legislation in the U.S. is not so different from the legislation we have in the EU."

-McAfee Cloud Security